Birubala Rabha, a tribal woman known for her crusade against witch-craft and witch-hunting, was presented the 12th Upendra Nath Brahma Soldier of Humanity in Kokrajhar on Saturday. Receiving the award, Rabha, who had survived an attack when she had first raised her voice against such practices, said superstition, couple with lack of healthcare facilities had left tribals in interior areas at the mercy of quacks and voodooism.
“Many innocent lives have been lost just because healthcare and education have not reached villagers in remote areas where most victims belong to tribal communities,” Rabha (60) said on receiving the award in Kokrajhar. Instituted by the UN Brahma Trust, the award – comprising of Rs 25,000, a citation and a bronze memento was handed over to her by former Bodo Sahitya Sabha president Brojendra Kumar Brahma and former Rajya Sabha member UG Brahma.
Calling upon the government to expedite the proposed anti-witch-craft legislation, Birubala Rabha said the society too had a role to play in bringing an end to such dangerous practices. While nearly 80 persons have been done to death across Assam in the name of witch-hunting since 2010, Rabha, who was once thrown out of her village for raising her voice against such practices, has herself saved 42 persons.
Winner of several awards including the Assam government’s Best Social Entrepreneur award, was in March this year conferred an honorary doctorate by Gauhati University for her pioneering crusade against witch-craft and witch-hunting. Some of the prominent persons who had won the UN Brahma award in the past include Mahasweta Devi, VG Verghese, Shanta Sinha, Patricia Mukhim, Niketu Iralu, Pramod Chandra Bhattacharyya and Natwar Thakkar.